Exact Match Anchor Text & Partial Match Anchor Text

I couldn’t have said this better myself, so I’m simply posting an excerpt from the (GREAT) article:

“Beyond Exact Match Anchor Text To Next Generation Link Signals – Whiteboard Friday” September 8, 2011 – Posted by Cyrus Shepard on SEOmoz.com.

We love exact match anchor text! It’s the Holy Grail of links that make our rankings soar – or does it? Many SEOs predict Google will continue to devalue exact match anchors as their algorithm evolves in the age of Panda. We’ve seen evidence of this phenomenon over the past year and many expect to see the value of exact match drop even further.

1. Exact Match
In the old days, if you wanted to rank for something, your tactic was very simple. If your target keyword was Bing cherries, you just tried to get as many exact match anchor text that said Bing cherries as possible to your website. Those of you who have been practicing SEO for a long time noticed something about a year and a half ago or so, that this method did not work as well as it used to. If you got too many exact match anchor texts, it could actually hurt you. That’s why you say, that’s such a 2009 tactic.

Now with the Google Panda update, we’re talking about a whole other realm of ranking signals, such as engagement metrics, social signals, but we don’t want to forget these link signals. Even if exact match isn’t the end all be all, there is still a lot of information that Google and other search engines are getting from these link signals, and that’s what we want to talk about today.

2. Partial Match
Now, one of the most overlooked types of anchor text links is the partial match, and I am in love with partial match. I really quit going for these [exact match links] a long time ago. Now it is all about partial match. People sort of misunderstand what partial match is. The technical definition of partial match is any anchor text that contains at least one of your keyword phrases. So, if your keyword phrase was Bing cherries, these would all count as partial match anchor texts: Bing are the best cherries; I love cherries; Bing is awesome. Yeah, it’s probably not what they are talking about, but it is still technically partial match anchor text.

If you are a fan of the 2011 Ranking Factors that SEOmoz did – we took a look, one of the factors we looked at was the power of partial match anchor text versus exact match anchor text. Now, in general, if you look at the root domain metrics, the correlation between the number of exact match anchor text was 0.17. All things being equal, the power of partial match anchor text was 0.25. Significantly more power and more correlation between the number of partial match anchor text and exact match anchor text. So, all things being equal, it seems like people rank higher, just a little bit, if they have more partial match as opposed to these exact match that everybody is always going for.

This is how I’d like to explain it. If you give me a choice, if you would say I could have any 300 links I want but they have to be 300 partial match anchor text or 300 exact match anchor text, a lot of webmasters would go for [exact match] thinking it is the best policy. Statistically though, [partial match] is your best choice. [Partial match] is going to contain some of your exact matches, but you’re going to have such a bigger broad tail, long tail queries that you can rank for. You’re going to get more traffic. You’re going to rank better for your targeted keywords, and this method is future proof. As Google deemphasize exact matches, [partial match] is going to take you forward in the long run. [Partial match] links are going to have a lot longer long-term value, and it is just going to give you a better natural looking link profile.

Click here for the complete article.

Online Reputation Management Explained

So, you just Googled your business name and saw something there that didn’t please you. What was it? RipOffReport.com, ComplaintsBoard.com, Scamfound.com, or maybe just some negative reviews on Yelp or some other reputation site. What to do? What to do?

First of all, is it a big deal?

YES! In a recent survey performed by Cone, a brand marketing agency, results show that 80% of those interviewed have changed their purchase decision based upon a bad review they read, up from 68% in 2010.

Visit Orbital Alliance for the complete story, including a look at how many people are doing online research before making a buying decision.

Anyway, you want to get rid of this negative site. Most of these kinds of publishers won’t remove the content, so the best strategy is to move the negative result to the second page of the search engine – a strategy known as Online Reputation Management.

I just looked up Online Reputation Management (ORM) and didn’t really have any luck finding a website that explained – in simple terms – how ORM works. So, I’m going to do my best to translate their internet gobbledygook into something that makes sense.

Let’s start with one of my legen- . . .  (wait for it) . . . -dary analogies.

You’re a photographer. You’re putting together this year’s “Hunky Firemen” calendar for a local charity so you go to meet the firemen at Station 114. Eleven of them live up to their stereotype and you know they’re gonna look great with their shirts off. Unfortunately, one of them looks like he spends a little too much time eating chicken wings at the local pub. How are you going to put together a great calendar with this guy in it? (Sorry to all ugly or chubby firemen! No disrespect intended! Hey, I almost used the cheerleader calendar analogy, but I knew you guys could handle it.) So anyway . . . you gotta get yourself a new hottie fireman if you want your calendar to be successful. Well, that’s exactly what you do. You go down to Station 116 and get a handful of cute firemen to volunteer. So that you don’t get any flack for playing favorites, you put all of the firemen up for a vote and at the end of the day, your ugly duck doesn’t make the cut. You end up with 12 great looking firemen for your calendar.

Let’s translate.

Of course, the firemen represent websites on page one of the search engine. Our rejected firemen is the RipOffReport.com website that kept coming up when people Googled your business name. The other firemen represent the other sites on page one and the firemen from station 116 are new sites that you create that are relevant to your business name. Votes are links. It’s that simple.

Okay, I’ll be a little more forthcoming. You have to get Google to rank ten sites that positively reflect your business on page one and get the bad site to page two. You do that by building links (votes) to all of the sites that are lower than RipOffReport.com. Maybe it’s your linkedin page, or your blog, or even your twitter page. Build lots of links to these sites until they outrank the ugly fireman.

Chances are, though, that there may not be ten great web properties about your business, so you may have to build some. That’s easy enough. Create fresh, relevant content about your business and build yourself a Web 2.0 property – something like a wordpress page or a squidoo lense. (These are the firemen from Station 116.) Then you build links to these too – lots and lots of links.

Some SEOs will even tell you that you can buy links for these new sites because if you do get a Google penalty for buying links, you can just build a new property and start the process over – no big deal. I’ll leave that part of the strategy up to you.

Bottom line, if there’s a negative website ranking for your business name, you have to optimize TEN other sites to ensure that it moves to page two. And that can be very time consuming and/or expensive. But what’s it worth? Or the better question – how much is that negative site hurting your businesses? If they’re looking you up by name, they’re considering doing business with you. You can’t ask for a better lead. When they see RipOffReport.com (whether the information is true or not, BTW), they’re likely to go on to the next business. And with so many people doing online research before making a buying decision, that can really put a damper on business!

For a great example of a company that practically owns page one for their business name, Google: Southwest Airlines and take a look. Even their itunes app is ranking!

If you’d like help with your own Online Reputation Management, please feel free to contact me.  Thanks!

-David McBee

Looking at SEO before building a website

I just got a call from a friend who knew I “have something to do with websites and Google, right?” 🙂 She asked if I would help her out with something. She then proceeded to tell me that her web designer wasn’t making her very happy. Apparently, he had completed her website, gotten his final payment, and was no longer returning her calls. She was frustrated because she wasn’t able to find her website on the first page of Google for her main keywords. So, being the (air quotes) SEO Expert (air quotes) that I am, I took a look at her new website.

Now if I’m honest, I know enough about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to be dangerous and I can even point someone in the right direction, but I would much rather refer you to my REAL-SEO-EXPERT buddies who do onsite SEO all day, every day if you’re serious. That said, I could tell within a few seconds that my friend’s website was NOT built with SEO in mind. The title tag of the home page: (Business Name | Home) was enough to tell me that this was another website that was not built to impress Google.

When I started pointing out the shortfalls with the page titles, the lack of content, keywords, geo-modifiers, image tags, and more, she got really mad. “I specifically asked him if my website would be found on Google before I hired him!” she told me. To be fair, it was on Google . . . on page 8 or something. Ouch.

I tried to calm her down by explaining that everything that needed to be done to make her website Google-friendly could still be done, but that was like telling someone who had just bought a brand new home that “we can still install indoor plumbing – even though the house is already built.” Sure, it can be done, but it’s a lot easier if you just do it right in the first place.

So, I’ve got some pointers for you. If you’re building your own site, or if you’re hiring someone, make sure these things go into the plans BEFORE you get going.

  1. Make sure the site has a means to easily add fresh new content as often as you like.  A blog or “what’s new” pages are ideal for this.
  2. Plan out your navigation silos and internal linking structure before you get started.
  3. Make use of custom page titles that include your business name, keywords, and geo-modifiers (cities where you do business).
  4. Avoid duplication in content and page titles. Google hates duplicate content.
  5. After you think you’re done, run a link checker to make sure you have no broken links.
  6. Pay attention to H-tags, image alt text and meta descriptions, but don’t get too bogged down on these. They won’t make or break your site.
  7. Include an XML site map if your site has more than ten pages.

Three more things worth mentioning:

  • My friend didn’t have any way of accessing or editing her site. I offered to change her page titles. I could have done it for her in five minutes. But she was reliant on her web designer to make any and all changes. That’s not a good system. Make sure you own your site (not just the URL) and that you have the ability to change it whenever you like.
  • While onsite SEO is important, offsite SEO – in other words, LINKS are going to have the greatest amount of impact on your rankings. As long as your site has the basics of onsite SEO, good keywords and content, links are what you’re going to need in order to get to page 1.
  • Web design and SEO are two very different things. Finding a web designer who really knows SEO isn’t always the easiest thing to do –and they’re not cheap. Depending on your budget, you may have to just get your website built and then hire the SEO company later.

Special thanks to SEO Professional, Kevin Pike for his help with this blog post.